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What Star India’s acquisition of IPL 2015 digital rights mean for Cricket online

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The digital rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the T20 tournament organized by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017, have gone to Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Star India Pvt Ltd.

The BCCI had set a cumulative reserve price of Rs 120 crores for this time period, and says that they received bids from Times Internet Ltd*, which owns Cricbuzz and video service Box TV (we checked, and it’s still around), Multi Screen Media (which owns video service Sony Liv) and Novi Digital. Star India streams sports on StarSports.com, and other content on HotStar.com.

The global rights to the Indian Premier League for Internet, Mobile, Radio and Television (for certain territories) were won by a consortium led by Times Internet, for a total fee of Rs 261.6 crore rupees for the four year period, 2011-14. That’s an average of Rs 65.5 crore per year, but note that this also included Radio and TV (for certain territories).

What this means for Cricket online

– Star now owns all the Cricket rights that matter in India: The Indian Premier League was the only missing piece of the pie for Star India, and now it has it.

Star has a deal for BCCI Cricket Rights in India, the rights for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 (beginning shortly in Australia and New Zealand), also a deal that the ICC called “cricket’s biggest-ever global broadcast agreement” for eight years (2015 to 2023), and includes 18 ICC tournaments, including two ICC Cricket World Cups (2019 and 2023), two ICC Champions Trophy tournaments (2017 and 2021) and two ICC World Twenty20 tournaments (2016 and 2020). In November 2013 it announced that it’s planning to invest Rs 20,000 crore on sports in India. In December 2013, it won the sponsorship rights for the Indian Cricket Team.

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– The outcome of the Hot News Case becomes all the more critical for Star. Star has much more to gain and lose from the outcome of this case. It has all eggs in the “live streaming of sports” basket.

The Hot News case (read our comprehensive coverage here) is in a limbo at the Supreme Court, awaiting hearing. Parties in that case include Cricbuzz (now owned by Times Internet, Idea Cellular and Onmobile Global).

Some recent updates on Hot News:
– India vs West Indies Cricket: “no scores, scorecards, live commentary”, STAR tells App Developers
– How the Indian Super League is trying to prevent “unofficial” live coverage
– IPL 2014 legal warning on “Proprietary Content” covers Internet scorecards, commentary & more

– More/continued restrictions for Media personnel: Take a look at the stringent guidelines for the ICC World Cup 2015, which prohibit mediapersons from providing match related scores, (match) results, images, commentary, whether via radio, TV, the Internet, mobile phones, without explicit permission of the ICC Development (International) Limited. Much more, here.

– Possibly more notices for app developers: We’ve seen several instances of Star and/or BCCI sending mobile app developers warnings about publishing Cricket scorecards in their apps, or providing live commentary. Some examples (with the text for the notice):

October-November 2013, India vs Australia
February 2014 for Asia Cup
April 2014, for the Indian Premier League 2014
October 2014 for India vs West Indies

– Delayed scorecards from online news sites: Cricinfo and Cricbuzz were both forced to delay scorecards for their live ball by ball coverage last year, unless they paid Rs 10 lakh per match. More on that here.

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– Times Internet is more likely to lean towards fewer restrictions for reporting of scorecards and live scores: Times Internet is now a party to the Hot News case in the Supreme Court of India (filed by Star) via its acquisition of Cricbuzz. Given that TIL no longer has digital rights for Cricket (remember that it had partnered with Star last year, switching from YouTube), it’s more likely that the Times of India will defend its right to report scores online and ball by ball commentary, rather than not ruffle any feathers by raking up this issue. We’re not sure if it will, but it is more likely to now, since it has no stake in the rights.

Disclosure: Times Internet is currently an advertiser with MediaNama

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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